The Key Factors That Affect Shipping Costs for a Motorcycle

Choosing The Right Shipping Method For Your Needs

There comes a time when you want to move to a new location. You may wonder, “How much does it cost to transport a motorcycle there?” You’ll likely get 10 different answers from several people because many factors affect the shipping cost. Fortunately, you don’t have to remain in the dark about them.

Knowing what goes into the shipping costs for a motorcycle is crucial because you want to keep within a budget. You can find all you need below, along with the details and standard pricing.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Motorcycle

Assuming you’re transporting a standard bike to a location 1,500 miles away, you can expect to spend around $850. This is the average cost to ship a motorcycle using open carriers, which are among the cheapest options.

On the other hand, some people may be moving cross-country and wonder about the price. The further distance will increase the cost to around $1,150 if you choose to go with an enclosed carrier.

If you’re wondering, “how much does it cost to ship a motorcycle overseas?” the answer is closer to $2,000. Besides standard loading and transit costs, you’re expected to pay local taxes or other fees to get the motorcycle into the country legally.

Factors That Affect Motorcycle Shipping Costs

Here are the primary factors that make up the final quote for shipping a motorcycle. You’ll likely know some of these because they’re standard options for price calculation. Luckily, the motorcycle cost doesn’t affect shipping bills.


Distance is easily the number one factor that affects how much to transport a motorcycle. A short trip can cost several hundred dollars, especially if you’re using the cheapest shipping options and aren’t staying in a rural place. Using terminal-to-terminal shipping is even better as you pay less than door-to-door shipping.

Naturally, a cross-country destination sometimes costs more than twice a short trip, as the motorcycle transport company needs to spend more on gas and transit fees. Therefore, prepare yourself if you intend to send the bike a further distance or potentially overseas.

When calculating distance costs, most companies charge by the mile. If the representative uses a different measurement, you should be cautious.

Bike Weight

A motorcycle’s weight is another factor. The industry standard is 50 cents per pound on average. Most shipping companies will first ask for your bike’s model and make, as they usually keep a list of how much standard models weigh. Even so, they’ll place your motorcycle on a scale first before calculating the final price.

The difference is more apparent when you compare the shipping costs of a Yamaha motorcycle to that of a Harley-Davidson. The latter is made of heavy stainless steel components, while a standard Yamaha or Suzuki features more plastic parts. Correspondingly, the cost is relatively inexpensive for people looking for “ship dirt bike” options online.

Scooters are even lighter and aren’t too expensive to ship compared to other types. Their slight build and weight make them easier to transport.

Shipping Costs for a Motorcycle

Transport Method

If you already have experience shipping vehicles, you probably know that you can choose between enclosed or open carriers. Open carriers are much less expensive but have some increased risk of damage. In this case, motorcycles are exposed to the elements and potentially other vehicles.

Although the motorcycle will be carried along with other bikes, it may make it easier to get scratched or damaged. However, the lower price is attractive to many customers.

On the other hand, enclosed carriers carry fewer motorcycles and keep them inside covered carriers or individual containers. This service will cost more because loading the bike into specialized trucks can be challenging. The motorcycle transport company needs to use more equipment to get the bikes into the enclosed carrier safely.

Enclosed carriers are practically the only option if you own a vintage or custom bike, as they ensure total protection from the elements.

Though most claim open carriers to be the most cost-effective solution, shipping motorcycles by train is even cheaper. Some only pay $200 for shipping bikes using this method. If you’re unsure how to ship a dirt bike by train, the process is as follows:

  1. Call a company that offers to ship by train.
  2. Check with a representative for any availability.
  3. Finalize the details.
  4. Drive the motorbike to the company terminal.
  5. Let the transport company handle the loading and shipping.

That’s all it takes to ship a motorcycle by train. You pay less while having the bike shielded from potential damage.

Door-to-Door or Terminal-to-Terminal

Many auto shipping companies haul their cargo to terminals where everything is unloaded. The vehicle owner collects the bike or car themselves or sends a representative on their behalf. The first is more cost-effective, but others prefer the second.

If you’re willing to pay more, you can ask the company if they offer door-to-door motorcycle transport services. If they do, the company will send its truck to retrieve your bike, transport it to the destination, and unload it. As the driver has to travel further, the final quote will be higher.

Most people looking for shipping dirt bike options usually choose terminal-to-terminal because the option is more affordable. Door-to-door shipping isn’t as popular but is better for more expensive bikes.

Insurance Costs

Most reputable motorcycle transport companies will offer insurance to customers. It’s best to get a package that covers common accidents and damages because there’s no telling what can happen mid-transit. Despite the loaders’ best efforts, it’s impossible to eliminate all risks.

Standard vehicle plans don’t usually cover damage incurred during transportation. That’s why transport companies sell the plans.


Transporting a bike from one major city to another will usually cost less than shipping to a rural area. The reason is that there are fewer facilities in smaller towns and the company may have to spend extra to bring your bike to you. Location is more relevant if you’re using a door-to-door shipping service.

While terminal-to-terminal shipping isn’t affected as much, you should check for the prices first before proceeding.


Shipping demand often drives the costs up. It’s common to see prices rise during the summer or in January. You may notice a lower-priced bill if you can ship the motorcycle in other months.

Other Motorcycle Shipping Costs

Other Costs

The factors above are usually controllable to an extent, but there are other expenses that motorcycle owners must simply accept if they arise. Some are entirely optional, meaning they may not apply to every customer.

Express Shipping Costs

Transport companies understand that some customers are in a hurry and require express shipping options. These are usually the costliest plans, but you can get the bike to the intended destination much faster than other methods. You can consider express or expedited shipping if you’re pressed for time.

Expedited shipping may necessitate you use an enclosed carrier or another method. You usually don’t have a choice, but the options are often more advantageous if speed is of the essence.

Extra Space

Some motorcycles have trailers or carriages attached to them. These vehicles may not fit standard carriers well, necessitating specialized equipment like oversized containers. You may have to use enclosed shipping if the bike is too large to fit on an open carrier.

Oversized bikes without these attachments can also cost extra to ship. Some models are too large for standard containers. For open carriers, you may have to pay the price of two spots if the bike is too large.

Failed Collection

Owners or representatives are expected to arrive on time to collect the motorcycle when the delivery is complete. However, unforeseen circumstances may arise, and owners who come late may have to pay late collection fees.


While this doesn’t always happen, some companies may elect to place the motorcycle in storage until owners can collect it. They can also do this if you didn’t pay the balance. The owner is responsible for all storage fees.

Trouble Moving the Bike

Transport companies work assuming they can quickly move the motorcycle onto a carrier. If your bike isn’t functional or is challenging to move, you may be charged extra.

Many of these aren’t considered hidden fees, but you should chalk them up to unforeseen circumstances or situations beyond anyone’s control. An experienced company tends to calculate extra costs when you ask for a quote, as they can anticipate these charges.

How much does shipping a motorcycle cost when there are extra unanticipated fees? The answer will vary, but seeing a several-hundred-dollar increase is not unreasonable.

Tips Before Shipping a Motorcycle

Tips Before Shipping a Motorcycle

Handing over a motorcycle without taking precautions can be dangerous for the transport company and the bike itself. Here are some steps to take before handing it over for shipping.

Drain the Gas Tank if You’re Shipping the Bike in a Crate

Those who want to ship their bikes in a crate or container should drain the gas tank of any fuel. The gas can cause fires, and wooden boxes are excellent fuel for any flames that originate from the bike.

Check the Fuel Levels

Customers using standard carriers should keep the tank a quarter full to half full, as the movers will drive it up a pallet or truck. They need some fuel to make it happen.

Ensure the Bike Is in Neutral

The motorcycle should be in neutral as no one will be around to handle it when the transport is on the road. While the company will secure it, owners should try not to make the shippers’ jobs difficult.

Inflate Tires if Needed

When transporting motorcycles, they must stay upright and stable. The tires should be checked to ensure they have enough air pressure. Inflating them takes a few minutes of your time and should be done before shipping.

Remove Personal Items or Loose Objects

Insurance policies don’t cover personal items or loose objects that stay on the motorcycle during transit. The company isn’t responsible if you lose something, so removing everything except some necessary things is best. For example, the keys should stay.

Take Pictures or Videos

Before shipping the motorcycle, use a smartphone or camera to take pictures of your bike. The images should cover all visible areas. This is particularly important if the bike already has some damage before shipping.

After getting the motorcycle, you may notice some worsened damage and need proof to make a damage claim. Showing the shipping company the pictures will also make their job easier.

Prepare Documentation

Transport companies usually ask customers for some documentation to keep in the records. Talk to the company and prepare any necessary paperwork. International shipping is more demanding as you’ll need these documents:

  • Title
  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof of insurance
  • Employer Identification Number if you have one
  • Photo ID
  • For sellers, a certificate of release

Consult the company for the best course of action before proceeding. Doing so tends to prevent any surprises.

Check Online Reviews

A reputable motorcycle or auto transport company will have many positive reviews. If a company has overwhelming negative reviews, it’s best to look for another one.

final shipping costs for a motorcycle

The Final Cost

Now that you know what factors affect the final shipping costs for a motorcycle, it’s easier to narrow down your options. There are many shipping methods, and companies will try to craft the best plan for your situation and budget. It’s best to get a free quote to check if working with this company is viable.

If you’re looking for a reputable motorcycle shipping company, we’re here to help. Our professionals have years of experience in the industry.